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Photoshop Q&A

by | 2 years ago

Q: What’s the difference between opening a Camera Raw file as a smart object and applying the Camera Raw Filter as a smart filter? 

A: When you open a RAW file from Camera Raw into Photoshop as a smart object, you can go back and edit the settings in Camera Raw, even after you’ve worked on the file in Photoshop. Just double-click on the smart object layer thumbnail in the Layers panel to return to Camera Raw. There. you’ll see the current settings you’ve applied. Make any changes, click OK, and the updated file will be returned to Photoshop. 

If you use the Camera Raw Filter (Filter>Camera Raw Filter) on a Camera Raw smart object, the existing settings are ignored; it’s as if you’re starting fresh with Camera Raw, so you’d be applying the filter settings “on top” of whatever you’d previously done in Camera Raw. 

Similarly, if you open a RAW file into Photoshop “normally” (not as a smart object), the settings are “baked in” and can’t be edited. Once again, if you go to the Camera Raw Filter, you’re applying settings on top of what’s already there; you can’t edit the original settings. 

If you want to apply Camera Raw to a JPEG that’s already open in Photoshop (or even to an individual layer), then you’d use the Camera Raw Filter. If you apply the Camera Raw Filter as a smart filter then you can always edit the RAW settings for that document or layer by double-clicking the words “Camera Raw Filter” that appear below the layer in the Layers panel. To convert a layer for smart filters, go to Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. 

Q: How do I move an existing guide? 

A: Switch to the Move tool (V), and when you hover your cursor over a guide, it will change to indicate that the tool is now operating as a “guide mover” (not an official name). Just click-and-drag to move the guide. 

Bonus: When you hover the Move tool over a guide, hold down the Option (PC: Alt) key, and click the guide, the orientation of the guide will change from horizontal to vertical or vice versa. 

Q: I want to extend a photo to make it wider, but it’s a Camera Raw smart object. Is it possible to use Content-Aware Fill on a smart object? 

A: You can’t use Content-Aware Fill on a smart object, but there are a couple of other options. First, you need to extend the canvas itself to make room for the extended photograph. You can do this using the Image>Canvas Size command, or with the Crop tool (C) by dragging out a side handle to add more canvas. Then add a new layer. Now you have a couple of choices: the Patch tool or the Content-Aware Move tool. 

With the Patch tool (nested below the Spot Healing Brush tool [J] in the Toolbar), make a selection around the extra canvas you added (you could also use the Rectangular Marquee tool [M] to make the selection and then switch to the Patch tool). In the Options Bar, make sure the Patch drop-down menu is set to Content-Aware and Sample All Layers is turned on. Using the Patch tool, click-and-drag the selected area to the area you want to use as a patch. After you let go, you can use the Structure and Color settings in the Options Bar to fine-tune the results. 

If you’d prefer to use the Content-Aware Move tool instead (also nested below the Spot Healing Brush tool), change the Mode to Extend in the Options Bar, and turn on Sample All Layers. Switch to the Rectangular Marquee tool and Select an area in the image that’s larger than the blank extra canvas, and then switch back to the Content-Aware Move tool. Click-and-drag the selected area over the extra canvas, and press Enter. 

In both cases, you may need to use the Spot Healing Brush or Clone Stamp tool (S) to cover up any obvious repetitions that appear. You may also want to add a layer mask to blend the extension with the original. 

Note: As soon as pixels are created with the Patch tool and Content-Aware Move tool, they no longer have any connection to the Camera Raw smart object, so you can’t change the Camera Raw settings and expect the extended area to update. So be sure that the Camera Raw settings are “final” before using these techniques to extend the photo. 

Q: I have three photos on separate layers and can see that they don’t quite line up with each other. How do I line them up? 

A: The first step is to select all three layers, so in the Layers panel, click on one layer and then hold down the Command (PC: Ctrl) key, and click on the other layers. (If your layers are contiguous in the Layers panel, you can click on the top layer, hold down the Shift key, and click the bottom layer to select them.) Then switch to the Move tool (V) and look in the Options Bar where you’ll see the Align commands. You’ll want to use the second set of buttons that will Align Top Edges, Align Vertical Centers, or Align Bottom Edges. 

Q: I want to create an effect with a photo showing up inside the letters of a word, while keeping the type editable. Is that possible?

A: Yes, you can keep the type editable by using a clipping mask. Create a type layer and then directly above that layer, add the photo that you want to appear inside the letters. With the photo layer active, go to the Layer menu and choose Create Clipping Mask. Now the photo will only be visible inside the letters, and you can continue to edit the type. You can also click on the photo layer in the Layers panel to make it active, and then use the Move tool (V) to reposition the image inside the text

ALL IMAGES BY DAVE CROSS, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED